French Ligue 1, Leagues, Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Spanish Primera División, Story, Transfers

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Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has said that Paris Saint Germain’s Neymar would have a better chance of winning the Ballon D’Or if he was playing for the Bernabeu outfit.

Neymar, 25, joined PSG from Barcelona in a €222 million deal just last summer, but that has not stopped speculation that the Brazil international could join Madrid, with club captain Sergio Ramos and international teammate Casemiro having both made clear they would welcome his arrival.

Speaking on “El Larguero” radio show from Paris, where he had accompanied current Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo as he collected a fifth Ballon d’Or, Perez said that it was easier to win such awards when playing for the most prestigious clubs.

“For a few years it will be difficult for anyone to take away the leadership [from Cristiano and Lionel Messi],” Perez said. “Winning five has not taken away Cristiano’s interest in winning a sixth.

“Neymar was third today in the voting. Other new names could also emerge. But I see it difficult for him to reach the level of Cristiano, honestly. Being at Madrid would make it easier for Neymar to win it. Madrid is a club which gives that which every great player needs.”

Neymar left Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain last summer.

Madrid had organised for some of the club’s past Ballon d’Or winners, including Ronaldo Nazario and Kaka, to be at Thursday evening’s ceremony at the Eiffel Tower. No player has ever won the award while representing PSG — although George Weah and Ronaldinho have done so after leaving the Parc des Princes.

“I don’t know how many Ballon d’Or winners PSG has had, very few I think,” Perez said. “It is a club which has grown a lot recently but all clubs have the right to want Ballon d’Or winners in their squad.”

Perez laughed without commenting when asked about Neymar Senior’s recent comments about it being “too early yet” to talk to Madrid about a future move for his son, but did recall past efforts to sign the player before he ended up at Barcelona.

“Everyone knows I wanted to sign him at that moment,” he said. “But football is like that, sometimes you can do it, sometimes you cannot. But we are delighted to have Cristiano Ronaldo. Today is Cristiano’s day.”

Talking to “El Partidazo” radio show, Perez was asked about Neymar’s teenage PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe, who Madrid also reportedly tried to sign last summer.

“Mbappe is 18 years old,” Perez said. “We will let him develop and see where he ends up.”

Perez also agreed when it was suggested that club presidents should also be recognised at the Ballon d’Or awards.

“They should give a Ballon d’Or too for the best president,” Perez said.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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